It’s been a strange summer for Manchester so far. After two seasons of complete and utter domination, the Mancunian stranglehold on English football is in danger of being broken by Jose Mourinho’s, whose return to SW6 is likely to transform Chelsea into title challengers once more.
Both Manchester clubs will enter the new season with different managers, but while the blue half of the town awaits with lukewarm anticipation, some of their red counterparts have already voiced their doubts about David Moyes.
It is a stark contrast to the palpable excitement brewing at Stamford Bridge and one that is mirrored by the Mancunian clubs’ activity – or, in United’s case, lack of – in the transfer window so far.
While City have splashed a combined £52.8m on Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, they haven’t managed to capture a big name as yet, something of a novelty considering their record over the last couple of seasons, which shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a problem, though.
Having parted ways with Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez in the space of six months, the need for a striker was paramount for City but having missed out on Edinson Cavani and with Luis Suarez’s future still very unclear, last season’s runners-up’s options seemed limited.
Alvaro Negredo might not be the household some fans and members of the media craved, however the 27-year-old Spaniard could prove to be a superb signing by Manuel Pellegrini.
Having struggled to find his feet at Real Madrid, Negredo moved to Almeria in 2007 before signing for Sevilla in 2009, where his career finally bursted into life as he amassed 70 league goals in four seasons, including 25 last term.
Last season, in the top European leagues, only six players scored more league goals than Negredo but, of those six, only Cavani was a realistic target for City, with Messi and Ronaldo out of reach, while Falcao’s head was swiftly turned by Monaco’s euros.
Considering the inflated prices that cripple the transfer market in this day and age, £20m for a striker of proven European experience – Negredo has played in the Champions League as well as being part of the Spain squad that triumphed at Euro 2012 – can only be seen as a bargain.
Furthermore, Negredo doesn’t represent a gamble either, for new City manager Manuel Pellegrini knows everything about the 27-year-old’s abilities, having faced him as an opponent since 2004, when the Chilean was in charge of Villareal.
Negredo’s physical presence should ensure a rather smooth transition to the Premier League, while his mobility will allow Pellegrini to deploy him either as lone striker or alongside Sergio Aguero or even Edin Dzeko, should City look for a heavier front-line.
With former Sevilla team-mate Jesus Navas and David Silva also at the club, Negredo will be surrounded by players who share his and his manager’s football philosophy, a factor that could be critical if the 27-year-old is to hit the ground running.
“Manchester City are buying a great player, the top-scoring Spaniard in La Liga,” said Sevilla president Jose’ Maria Del Nido “This is a big deal for Sevilla, the second most important in our history after we sold Daniel Alves [to Barcelona], and the player will sign the contract of his life. Everyone should be happy; it is a great deal for all three parties.”
Should Negredo match last season’s goal tally, City will definitely be the happier party come May.
Is Negredo a good signing or should City have gone for a “bigger name”? Which striker would you, realistically, like your club to sign this summer? We want your views so have your say below or get involved on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.